WINSLOW — The cost of a stalled construction project at the police station has increased by another increment, higher costs could be on the horizon and it’s unclear when work will resume.

During a special meeting Monday, the Town Council voted to authorize an additional $96,000 for a project that eventually will cost the town more than $734,000. The new estimate is $106,000 more than originally planned, and $18,000 more than estimated last week.

The latest cost increase is because of a design change in the proposed fire-suppression system — from a wet system to a dry system.

The police station is attached to the Town Office and the fire station — all of which must have sprinklers to comply with building codes. Town Manager Michael Heavener explained that the area where the sprinkler system will be installed — the space between a drop-tile ceiling and the roof — is poorly insulated and could cause the pipes to freeze in winter. Rather than risk frozen pipes, the council voted to use the dry system, in which the pipes remain empty until they’re needed, on the second floor and a wet system on the first floor where temperatures are warmer.

There’s a new wrinkle, however.

During the 80-minute meeting, which included a public hearing, Code Enforcement Officer Frank Stankevitz questioned whether the roof over the fire station can support the additional weight.

“We know the roof already had a 3- to 4-inch sag in it,” he said. “It’s been compromised to some degree. Before we start adding a lot to it, we might want to take a look at that.”

Glen Dumont, a salesman for Peachey Builders, said the sprinkler system will add up to 5 pounds per square foot to the roof, which he characterized as a significant load. He agreed the roof supports should be inspected before installing additional weight.

Councilor Ken Fletcher was clearly frustrated by the latest uncertainty in the project, which has been stalled since Aug. 3.

“This is quite an exciting discovery,” he quipped. “It sounds like we have another potential issue — no, a real issue.”

Throughout the night, Fletcher criticized Peachey Builders and the series of steps that led the town to this point.

Construction of the police station foundation began in mid-July, but a few weeks later the state issued stop-work orders because Peachey Builders hadn’t applied for a building permit from the fire marshal. The site has been idle ever since. Last week, the fire marshal issued a permit that requires the town to include code updates to the existing building, including a fire suppression system, handicapped-accessible bathrooms and more. The cost to the town could have been even higher, but Peachey Builders agreed to absorb $60,000 in code upgrades.

The town has the option to defer some of the upgrades over the next two years, but most will be done when the project re-starts. A requirement to create a handicapped-accessible entrance to the town office — estimated at $10,000 — will be done at a later date.

Work cannot resume on the project yet, because Stankevitz hasn’t issued a building permit. Stankevitz said he cannot issue a permit until he receives a full set of engineered plans, which isn’t yet available from Peachey Builders. Councilors Fletcher and Steve Russell successfully argued that the town shouldn’t authorize any additional spending until Peachey Builders provides a complete set of plans to Stankevitz and a town building permit is issued. The councilors asked Dumont to deliver the plans by Thursday. If Stankevitz approves the plans, the spending will be automatically authorized.

Russell said if the plans aren’t ready by the end of the week, the council would have a “completely different conversation” about the project during its regularly scheduled meeting next Tuesday.

Peachey Builders has agreed to a completion date of Jan. 14. If the work isn’t finished by then, the town will charge the company $1,000 for every additional day.

Ben McCanna — 861-9239

[email protected]

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